For the past few months, I’ve been carrying around an old greeting card given to me by a close friend when I was a teenager. The card, inscribed by someone who would prove to be one of my greatest encouragers, commended me for my Christian witness and ended with the following challenge:
“A true relationship with Jesus is the closest thing to peace and true happiness that you will find in this world.”
I keep it because I held it up to read from it at his funeral when I shared with everyone how his friendship had impacted my life. Greg was a young adult who joined our local church and, for some reason, decided to take me under his wing. He poured his life out spiritually but also acted as somewhat of a big brother—teaching me to drive, allowing me to fly a plane, and paying me to help him with odd jobs.
Greg also introduced me to running as pretty much the quickest way to lose weight. We ran around my neighborhood on a nightly basis. I would say we had conversations but it was more him talking and me listening, while gasping for air. As chatty as I am, on a track I suddenly become silent.
E. M. Bounds is quoted as saying, “”Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.” That’s an amazing concept to consider. My grandmother’s or perhaps even my great-grandmother’s prayers are still affecting me today. Not only can I pray for my daughter’s spouses but for their children’s spouses and so on. Not a word goes unheard and not a breath is fruitless.
If prayers are eternal, I believe encouragement and love are as well. The kind words and affection that we share as brothers and sisters in Christ will continue to have a lasting effect, even after we have been promoted to heaven. There are seeds of kindness we may never see the results of while we live.
For Greg, it was a glorious thing to finally finish his earthly race and run into the arms of Christ, even though the loved ones he left behind were forced to process that great loss. These are people whose lives were and will continue to be made stronger by the still-active prayers of the great, irreplaceable man they were mourning.
When I honored his life, I told his family and friends that Greg was such a great salesman he made running an appealing activity to me. I also told them how he kick started me back every time I tried to stop. Whenever I would need to take a break, he would run around in place, circling me to keep his energy up. After I’d taken as much of a break as he thought I needed, he’d encourage me to start running again. If I didn’t start quick enough, he’d circle behind me and push me with both hands. On some nights, the pushing was a regular occurrence.
We didn’t run together long before our lives changed courses. I went off to college and he started a family. Years later, I took on running again, this time on my own. I’m not exaggerating or being overly dramatic when I tell you that every time I paused, I expected to feel Greg’s hands on my back. Every time I took a break, I literally heard his voice in my head, “Don’t stop, DeWayne, you have to keep going.”
What words have you spoken that will linger with those lives you have touched? What prayers will you leave behind for the sake of your loved ones?
We have a short time here to make a difference. But what a difference we can make!